Anyway, once again the greatest south bay party (arguably the greatest Bay Area film party, but don't let Indiefest or SFIFF hear that) started it's 21st version last night. People say that means Cinequest is old enough to drink, but those who can do math realize that Cinequest #1 was when it was 0 years old, so at Cinequest 21 it's really only 20 years old (note to those who point out that it actually did start in 1990 and skipped a year in 1995--that's because the festival moved from November to it's current March calendar spot, so Cinequest still isn't really 21 until November). Which means that 3 years ago when I made sweet love to Cinequest it was technically statutory rape (oh, no!)
Aaaaaanyway, we had the opening comments from Halfdan. Mayor Chuck Reed showed up, and Intel VP Sean Maloney was introduced with a stirring tribute to his persistence and patience in recovering from a stroke to once again become a competitive rower. He was there to introduce his friend Martin Cooper, the Motorola engineer and inventor of the cell phone, who had some apropos comments to make about innovation, passion, and persistence (in the early days, they were told the market for portable phones only numbered in the 10's of thousands at the most). Then finally the film...
And that film was PASSIONE by John Turturro. I loved his ROMANCE AND CIGARETTES, but this was a very different film. And that's not a bad thing. It's a very well made film, but surprisingly challenging for an opening night film. Turturro plays the narrator/tour guide to Napoli, a city of great hardship and great cultural/musical treasures. He introduces it as a passionate city, with a paradoxical "I love you, but if you're not willing I'll also take your sister" ethos. But that's not a paradox he's interested in resolving, more like a world he's playing in. The movie is mostly a series of musical performances, contemporary and historical, and the kind of film you could walk in and out of and enjoy just the same (proposed experiment: set up a room where PASSIONE is playing on continuous loop, and see if wandering in and out for a day is more or less rewarding than sitting and seeing it in one shot). None of that is to say it was not enjoyable. It's clearly a well made movie, and every scene has something interesting and beautiful, both visually and aurally. It's just a lot to process in one go. I heard a lot of comparisons to BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB, but to me it reminded me more of the hybrid not-quite-documentaries of Werner Herzog.
And then I went to the opening night party. Crowded as usual, I drank a lot, ended up standing behind Mr. Turturro's table for most of the night (I'm sure I'm cropped out of the background of many pictures of him), and chatted with many filmmakers, including the people from BAD BEHAVIOR, MARROW, SNOW, and DYING TO DO LETTERMAN. Now I have to see all their movies. Which I'm sure will be a pleasure. Eventually I left the party for the night, but the 13 day party is just beginning.
Total Running Time: 95 minutes
My Total Minutes: 224,628